Last week, I wondered on Twitter why the Mets brought Ike Davis back so quickly, but are letting Ruben Tejada languish in Triple-A while playing Omar Quintanilla.
After all, Tejada is 23, with no slump in his history prior to 2013, and Quintanilla is 31 and boasts a career OPS+ of 57, or right in line with the Tejada performance that got him sent down.
Someone pointed out an important difference between Davis, who did post good numbers in Las Vegas, and Tejada: the shortstop isn’t.
I took it as a given that in that run environment, which is Tony Robbins-level hitting positive, Tejada would hit. His OPS in Vegas, though, is .595. Now, it’s 55 plate appearances down there, a tiny sample size. But there’s nothing within that screams, “Give me another chance, Sandy!”
Still, Alderson recognizes the need to figure out what both Tejada and Davis can be going into 2014, as he reiterated in this interview with Mike Francesa on Tuesday. Essentially, it is the difference between needing to find an entire outfield for 2014, or an entire outfield and half an infield. (Catcher, too, will be determined by Travis d’Arnaud’s ability to come back, though it is awfully hard to imagine the Mets planning for anything other than opening next season with d’Arnaud catching.)
I’m not sure much more matters than that, when it comes to the remaining half of the Mets’ season. There’s Zack Wheeler’s development, naturally, and making sure Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero remain on course to help in 2014, giving the team pitching depth it hasn’t had for a long time.
But if the Mets need to add five starting position players to compete in 2014, that’s asking a lot, regardless of the budget. It’s also difficult to find a competent shortstop, period.
So Tejada’s recent uptick in performance, with seven hits over his last four games, is encouraging. It doesn’t necessarily mean much. Production in the Pacific Coast League isn’t a great indicator of major league performance. But good lord, a sub-.600 OPS in the Pacific Coast League is certainly a terrible indicator of major league performance. So at the very least, Tejada has to hit in Las Vegas.
What Alderson said Tuesday is correct: the Mets don’t need stars at every position. They need Tejada to be the competent shortstop he was in 2011 and 2012. How willing the Mets are to bet on that proposition will be determined by the second half of the season.